The Perils of Blind Tradition

An analysis of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery.

The paper examines The Lottery by Shirley Jackson – a parable with an unexpected twist. The author of the paper shows how the story is a comment on capitalism in society, the subjugation of women as well as the pointless violence that continues despite our common sense. The paper investigates how, when it was first published in 1948, the book was met with indignation and abuse. In order to understand this reaction, the author of the paper revisits the little village of three hundred people and studies the elements of character, the narration of the story in which it is told, and the plot. The paper shows that only in examining these three elements can we grasp the social chord Jackson touched upon when she wrote The Lottery.
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson explores the violent (and often irrational) tendencies of Man. She deems capitalism to be the root of society’s problems in that it promotes and sustains inequality amongst its citizens, not least of which is the subordination of women. Although Jackson does not offer a solution to the problem, her story does provoke consideration and debate of the subject. Maybe upon identifying the problem as opposed to blindly accepting the status quo as did the townspeople in Jackson’s tale, can we hope for change.